There is a new Visitor's Center at Gethsemani. I didn't notice it when I was here last year (Pentecost 2012) but I think it has been here for awhile, at least a couple of years. I almost passed it by this year as well, but for a call of nature. The gift shop is typical, nothing special, but the rest of the center is very worthwhile.
There is a room with many photos of the monks and quotes from them and others about the nature of contemplative life.
A statue of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the best known and most influential Cistercian of all time, is there to greet you at the entrance:
Born into a knightly family in 1090, he entered Citeaux at the age of twenty two, bringing with him a group of thirty relatives and friends whom he had previously convinced to join him in leading a more serious Christian life. At the time of Bernard's entry, Citeaux was beginning to grow and had just made its first foundation (La Ferte, 1113). The influx of this large group made further expansion possible, and, in 1115, Bernard was chosen to lead Citeaux's fourth foundation, Clairvaux.
An inspired teacher and a consummate artist with words, Bernard is known as the "last of the Fathers" and a Doctor of the Church. His own monastery so prospered under his leadership that, at the time of his death in 1153, Clairvaux had made sixty-eight foundations.
Bernard's field of activity gradually expanded beyond his own abby, and he found himself involved - for better or worse - in theological controversies and ecclesiastical and political affairs. Among his monks and in his public life Bernard was considered a saint in his own lifetime. He was canonized in 1174 and officially proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1830.